None of the dozens of people on board a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft that crashed into a mountain in northern Pakistan on Wednesday survived the accident, the airline’s chairman said.
“There are no survivors, no one has survived,” Muhammad Azam Saigol told a press conference late on Wednesday, about five hours after flight PK661 from Chitral to the capital, Islamabad, crashed near the town of Havelian, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Saigol said the ATR-42 aircraft had undergone regular maintenance and had in October passed an “A-check” certification, conducted after every 500 hours of flight operations.
“I think that there was no technical error or human error … obviously there will be a proper investigation,” he said.
Earlier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said its plane lost contact with the control tower en route to the capital, Islamabad, from the northern region of Chitral.
The airline said the plane crashed at 1642 local time (1142 GMT) in the Havelian area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 40km (25 miles) north of Islamabad. Chitral, where the flight originated, is a very popular tourist destination in Pakistan.
“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris are scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in Havelian, told Reuters.
Khan, who was at the crash site, said witnesses told him “the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire”.
Pakistani television showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.
Irfan Elahi, the government’s aviation secretary, told media the plane suffered engine problems but it was too early to determine the cause of the accident.
PIA said the plane was carrying 47 people, including five crew members and a ground engineer. But Sohail Ahmed, a PIA official in Chitral, said there were 41 people on board.
The airline said two Austrian citizens and one Chinese citizen, all men, had been on board. The flight manifest showed three people on board with foreign names.
A local trader at the site of the crash said the fire was still burning nearly two hours after the crash.
The military said it had sent in troops and helicopters.
“PIA is doing everything possible to help the families of passengers and crew members,” the airline said in a statement.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has directed NADRA and FIA to send teams to the site for the identification of passengers and providing assistance to administration. -Reuters/Aajtv
PIA’s Emergency Response Numbers:
Ayub Medical Teaching Hospital: